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Paul Ryan is leaving Congress, but his party could lose seats in this election. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Republicans would need to lose 48 U.S. House seats and seven U.S. Senate seats to technically qualify as a "wave" election against the president's party, according to a new report from Ballotpedia.

Why it matters: The report is really about semantics and establishing an objective definition of a "wave election," but it gives important historical context for the 2018 election and helps better understand each party's chances in November.

How they got the numbers

Ballotpedia defines a "wave" election as "one in which the net seat change by the president's party falls into the top quintile of historical changes." They compiled data from 1918 to 2016.

  • U.S. House: In 11 of the 50 elections since 1918, the president's party lost 48 or more seats in the House. Six of those 11 "wave" elections occurred during the president's first midterm election.
  • U.S. Senate: In 10 of the 48 Senate elections since 1918 the president's party lost seven or more seats. Three of those 10 "wave" elections were in the president's first midterm.

Down-ballot: Republicans would need to lose seven gubernatorial seats, and 494 state legislative seats for those to be considered "wave" elections.

Bottom line: Democrats need to pick up two dozen seats in the House and claim a net gain of two seats in the U.S. Senate to win both of those chambers. Even if it's not considered a "wave," that'll be a win for the Democratic Party.

Go deeper

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The fragile recovery

Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits is falling but remains remarkably high three weeks before pandemic assistance programs are set to expire. More than 1 million people a week are still filing for initial jobless claims, including nearly 300,000 applying for pandemic assistance.

By the numbers: As of Nov. 14, 20.2 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits of some kind, including more than 13.4 million on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs that were created as part of the CARES Act and end on Dec. 26.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
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The top candidates Biden is considering for key energy and climate roles

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has urged President-elect Joe Biden to nominate Mary Nichols, chair of California's air pollution regulator, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The reported push by Schumer could boost Nichol's chances of leading an agency that will play a pivotal role in Biden's vow to enact aggressive new climate policies — especially because the plan is likely to rest heavily on executive actions.

U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows

Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November, while the unemployment rate fell to 6.7% from 6.9%, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The labor market continues to recover even as coronavirus cases surge— though it's still millions of jobs short of the pre-pandemic level. The problem is that the rate of recovery is slowing significantly.